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One of the coolest and easiest ways to transfer images to another medium (paper, wood, shirt, etc.) is by using the solvent transfer method. Utilizing cheap, easily attainable materials, this process is a good alternative to the time-extensive silk screening method. Solvent transfers can be done in a variety of different ways, producing a nearly limitless array of results, but we'll focus on the most straight-forward approach in today's how-to.

  1. An image that you want to transfer. Once you've found a suitable image, either make a copy of it (using a real copying machine) or print it out on a laser printer. Ink jet printers will not work.
  2. Blending marker or other suitable solvent. Blending markers contain Xylene (solvent), but you can also buy it in bulk at most art supply stores. Other people have had success with acetone, wintergreen oil, and tea tree oil, but Xylene seems to work the best across a variety of mediums.
  3. Transfer Medium. Whatever you choose to transfer your image to, it will need to by somewhat porous and smooth for the ink to adhere properly.
  4. Artist's tape. This can be found, along with your Xylene or blending marker, at most art supply stores.

  1. A spoon. Used for rubbing the image onto the transfer medium


The length of this project depends on the complexity of your design, and the number of pictures you're wanting to transfer. The key is to take your time and ensure you get a good transfer onto your medium. Once the image is transferred, it will need to dry for several hours (again, depending on the medium).


For the sake of brevity, we'll demonstrate the steps using paper as our transfer medium. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is as flat as possible, and secured with artist's tape before beginning.
  1. Take the transfer medium paper and use your artist's tape to secure it to a clean flat surface.
  2. Take the image you want to transfer and lay it face down on your transfer medium paper.
  3. Align the image and secure the top two corners with artist's tape.
  4. Using your blending marker, outline the image through the back of paper (the image paper, not the transfer medium paper).
  5. Once you've coated the back of the image with your blending marker, use the back of your spoon to carefully rub the image onto your transfer medium.
  6. As you rub, occasionally lift the image and make sure the resulting transfer is to your liking. If needed, you can always repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. After you're finished, carefully remove your image and artist's tape, and marvel at your newly transferred picture. Beautiful!
With practice, you should be able to control the darkness of your transferred image by varying the pressure you apply on the spoon. If you're looking for design inspiration, check out these amazing Moleskine solvent transfers.

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  • ReAnn

    Hi: Do you think this solvent transfer process will work on cement/ concrete or mason block?

  • Dan Chilton

    I'm not sure, ReAnn. It's worth a shot though. If you try it, and it does end up working, drop me a line and let me know!

  • 2 Comments / 1 Pages

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